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A mother to many

ALEXANDRA - A mother is a woman who nurtures and feeds her children. Some take on responsibility for many more than their own. One such woman who should be celebrated this Woman's Month, is the humble, happy Hazel Moloi.

From modest beginnings in Alexandra, where she was born in 1963, Hazel Maria Moloi has now become widely and fondly known among teachers and pupils around South Africa as ‘Gogo’. Her happy demeanour and willingness to make a difference in the lives of so many are a driving force behind Food & Trees for Africa’s 19-year-old, award-winning EduPlant programme.

EduPlant is a national schools’ food gardening and greening programme, in partnership with the Woolworths Trust and Engen, and reaches thousands of schools annually with resources, information and workshops that make schools greener and more food secure.

Children’s diets are improved and parents and community members around the schools learn how to sustain and improve the way they interact with the environment as they develop and maintain permaculture food gardens.

“Working for Food & Trees for Africa has opened my mind, eyes and heart. It still shocks me how many pupils go to school without food. I am humbled that the work I do for the EduPlant programme is decreasing this number daily as more schools start growing their own healthy organic food,” Moloi said.

Though she was raised by a mother and father in a two-roomed house, using the bucket toilet system, she didn’t see anything wrong with that. “When we later moved to Soweto into a four- room house, we did not have to use the bucket system anymore. Wow, it was the greatest thing for us to have a flushing toilet! My naughty sister and I used to go to the toilet just for the fun of flushing, which irritated my mother greatly.”

When she was laid off her job in 2004, she became a temporary EduPlant assistant. Her hard work and friendly and willing nature resulted in Moloi being promoted to assistant manager of the national EduPlant and Food Gardens for Africa programmes in 2011. She is responsible for communication in schools across the country to plan permaculture food gardening workshops.

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